For two years, I have been blessed to be a member of the Roots & Shoots U.S. National Youth Leadership Council. I didn’t know it at the time but one of the most pivotal moments of my life was hitting “submit” on my NYLC application as a 14-year-old. I had no idea that I was about to meet my dream “family” of like-minded, change-making teens. It is more than a council of young leaders; it is truly a family and a community-action force to be reckoned with.
I am grateful and proud to call myself a Roots & Shoots Youth Leader, especially because of the stunning impact that this group has had on the world.
Here is a powerful snapshot of the difference that we made in 2017, as the quantitative data speaks loud and clear as to our impact.
- 34 Youth Leaders. The 34 members of the U.S. NYLC are high school and college students that use their unique talents, passions, and resources to do projects just as unique as they are. This year, Youth Leader Kye and his non-profit KYE-YAC opened an exhibition in the Mid-America Science Museum’s newest childhood learning space, called the KYE-YAC clubhouse, which provides a safe environment for preschool age children to explore nature. Youth Leader Abby recognized the litter problem in her community and distributed litter collection barrels, and her town recognized her by naming her the Litter Prevention Coordinator, the youngest person to hold a town position. Olivia C. (that’s me!) used her art to share a message about community mapping by illustrating Roots & Shoots’ new story, My Community & Me.
- Over 100 speaking engagements. More than 100 times, a youth leader has spoken in front of a crowd to share Dr. Jane’s inspiring story and the spirit of Roots & Shoots. Speaking to audiences large and small or video-calling into a classroom, we have raised our voices loud, unafraid to share our passion for service and commitment to creating positive change.
- Nearly 300 Roots & Shoots projects. Among the almost 300 projects completed by members of the NYLC this year are some that are elaborate, multi-project, professional campaigns (like Piper’s group that is working hard at advocating for climate change legislation in Utah and planning educational climate change summits) and others that are small gathering of friends (like half a dozen students getting together to make cards for sick children.)
- Nearly 4,000 hours of service. Whether we are breaking down language barriers with refugees, preparing for a service trip to Haiti, peacefully protesting, or building a pollinator butterfly garden, this group is dedicated to putting in the time in our communities and beyond.
- Almost $12,000 fundraised for the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). Even as teenagers, we work hard to support Dr. Jane and the Jane Goodall Institute’s mission. We’re on #TeamJane!
These numbers represent countless hours of grit, comradery, ingenuity, and motivation to drive change. The 34 members of the NYLC spearhead tough, sensitive, and pressing issues in our communities. Some members sell crafts to benefit families that have lost their houses to a fire, others brighten people’s days in nursing homes with gingerbread houses, while others present projects on serious issues like human trafficking and refugees at the United Nation headquarters.
I know the NYLC is full of incredible change-makers, but every year I’m always impressed at the sheer number of collective hours of service… then I think about how the council is a small sliver of the Roots & Shoots community, and how there are so many more passionate people in this world making change right now. This is what gives me hope.” – Yanni Pappas, NYLC Member
We are proud of our 2017 impact, and we are excited to see where the NYLC will go next. We will continue to make change, and make it together, until the world is at peace. Until next year.
The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.